Data show no link between folic acid, PCa risk

February 4, 2013

Data from a recent study may allay fears over folic acid supplementation and risk of prostate and other cancers.

Data from a recent study may allay fears over folic acid supplementation and risk of prostate and other cancers.

Authors of the multinational study found folic acid supplementation "does not substantially increase or decrease incidence of site-specific cancer during the first 5 years of treatment."

"Fortification of flour and other cereal products involves doses of folic acid that are, on average, an order of magnitude smaller than the doses used in these trials," wrote the authors, led by Stein Emil Vollset, MD, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. Their study was published online in The Lancet (Jan. 25, 2013).

Researchers examined all large trials completed before 2011 that compared folic acid versus placebo, had scheduled treatment duration at least 1 year, and recorded data on cancer incidence. Individual participant datasets included 49,621 participants in 13 such trials.

During a weighted average scheduled treatment duration of 5.2 years, allocation to folic acid quadrupled plasma concentrations of folic acid but had no significant effect on overall cancer incidence (1,904 cancers in the folic acid groups vs. 1,809 cancers in the placebo groups, relative risk: 1.06, 95% CI: .99-1.13, p=.10). There was no trend towards greater effect with longer treatment.

"Moreover, there was no significant effect of folic acid supplementation on the incidence of cancer of the large intestine, prostate, lung, breast, or any other specific site," the researchers wrote.

Study funding was provided by the British Heart Foundation, Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, and Food Standards Agency (UK).

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